The Single Greatest Threat To A CIO’s Network Security: Their Children

CIOs always have to be aware of what their children are doing online
CIOs always have to be aware of what their children are doing online
Image Credit: freeparking 😐

As CIOs we understand the importance of information technology and so we go to great lengths to secure our corporate networks. Since most of us end up doing a great deal of our work from home, we also do our best to secure our home networks also. However, it turns out that there are forces working against us here – our children. They may not mean to cause security issues at home that can be brought into work, but they can. What can a CIO do when the threat is this close?

Perform An Assessment Of Your Home Technology And Your Children

Surprise – guess what? Not all children are the same. As the person with the CIO job who runs both an at work network and a home network, one of the first things that you are going to need to do is to perform an assessment of just exactly who you are dealing with here. Clearly there are major differences between a 7-year old and a 17-year old in the house!

You’ll also need to take stock of just exactly how many and what types of computing devices you have in your house. You may be in for an eye-opening experience here. You’ll need to count all of the mobile phones, e-book readers. desktop computers, laptops, and game systems that are in your house. One thing that you’ll be looking for is if each device supports the use of different “profiles”. If you can, create a separate profile for each family member who uses the device. You may also have to sit down with your children and explain to them that even if they do discover how to log into someone else’s profile, they really shouldn’t.

Improve The Security That You Use At Home

When you consider how much time and effort a person in the CIO position puts into securing the network at work, it can be just a little bit ironic when you understand just how insecure your home network may be. The first thing that you are going to want to do is to create passwords that are required to log into each device in the house. Make sure that you use both strong passwords and ones that your children who know you better than anyone else can’t guess. Also use a different password for each device.

The next thing that you are going to want to look at is just exactly who has access to the files on your computers. You are going to want to make sure that any files that are important to you are secure and require that a user has used the correct password to log into a device before they can access the files. Your goal here has to be to prevent your children from accessing, deleting, or modifying your files without your permission.

When Something Bad Happens, Clean It Up Correctly

Even the best laid home network security plans can fail. When yours does, you are going to need to have a plan for how you are going to go about dealing with it. Let’s face it – if you’ve put measures in place to prevent your children from accessing some part of your home network, there is a very good chance that at some point in time they may find a way around your blocks. It’s how you deal with this when it happens that matters the most.

First, you are going to want to make sure that you have a good line of communication with your child. When they find out how to defeat your parental controls, you want them to feel comfortable telling you about it. You don’t want to have to discover this on your own. When you do discover it, you have two ways that you can react. You could yell at them and tell them to never do it again. Handling it this way will ensure that the next time they find a way to defeat your security they will never tell you. A better way is to congratulate them and let them know that you admire their ingenuity. Then remind them why you have the parental controls in place and go ahead and set up a more secure access control system.

What All Of This Means For You

As CIOs we have been trained to keep our eyes open looking for all manner of security threats. However, it turns out that one of the biggest threats that we all may be facing lives in our home – it’s our children. What’s a CIO to do about a security threat that is this close to them?

The first thing that we need to do is to make sure that we understand the scope of the threat. In order to do this we need to assess all of the computer and networking gear that we use in our homes. We also have to take close look at our children and their online behavior: how much of a threat do they pose to us? Next, we need to do the basic stuff and boost the security that we’re using in our homes. There is no excuse for not having made sure that our home network is secure. Finally, we need to accept the fact that our children are going to do things online that we don’t want them to do. When this happens, we need to be sure to clean it up in a way that it becomes a learning experience for them.

No, you can’t get rid of your children. In this day and age, you also can’t get them to stop going online – it’s a critical part of their social network. Instead, what you need to realize is that your children represent a real threat to both your home network and by proxy your corporate network. This means that you need to immediately take steps to secure your home network better and set things up to provide your children with valuable learning experiences when things do happen.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Every network has usage rules. What usage rules should a home network have?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Can we be honest for just a moment? Despite the importance of information technology, the way that all of us are building networks is just a little bit antiquated. We’ve been doing this stuff the same way for a very, very long time. The problem is that we’re still not very good at it. No matter how many CCENT, CCNA, CCNP, CCIE, etc. certified folks you have working on this problem, the networks that we are building have the same problems and limitations that networks have always had. Isn’t there a better way of doing this stuff?